Monday, March 15, 2021

Baked Rigatoni from Maya Corrigan

If it weren't for the lock-down, I'd have never made this dish. When my surrogate shopper substituted cottage cheese for the sour cream on my list, I had to find recipes to use up the cheese I rarely buy. This pasta recipe, which I found online, turned out so good that I made it again a week later. 

Have you cooked anything new in the past year because of an unexpected item in your grocery delivery or shortages on the shelves? 

This easy pasta dish is like a deconstructed lasagna. You can use whatever kind of cheese you have on hand. The dish works best with short squat pasta that holds sauce well, like penne rigate, ziti, or rigatoni. The sauce has only five ingredients, which would please the grandfather in my Five-Ingredient Mysteries. He won't try any recipe with more than five ingredients, though he makes an exception if the sixth ingredient is pasta, his favorite. 

This recipe makes enough for four, but you can easily double or triple it for a larger group or to freeze some for another day. It's also good as a leftover. Though the recipe here makes a vegetarian pasta dish, you can stir in cooked ground beef or sausage before baking it. That's what I did the second time I made it, and it turned out well.


Serves 4

8-10 ounces of rigatoni, ziti, penne rigate or similar pasta

1/4 cup reserved pasta liquid

1 3/4 cups marinara or spaghetti sauce

1 cups cottage cheese

1 egg whisked

1 cup shredded cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, Parmesan, or a mix)

I mixed cheddar and mozarella when I made it.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

1. Cook pasta al dente in salted boiling water and drain it, reserving 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid.

2. Mix the sauce, cottage cheese, egg, and half of the shredded cheese (1/2 cup). 

3. Add the cooked pasta and reserved water to the mixture.

4. Put the mixture into a medium size pan or casserole dish (9 X 9 inches or 7 X 11). Sprinkle on the remaining cheese.

4. Bake for 30 minutes.  


  • Use whole wheat, regular, or gluten free pasta.
  • Add ground beef or sausage to the mix.
  • Use ricotta instead of cottage cheese.

Adapted from a recipe by Kristen Chidsey on A Mind "Full" Mom.


Maya Corrigan writes the Five-Ingredient Mysteries featuring café manger Val and her live-wire grandfather solving murders in a Chesapeake Bay town. Maya lives in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. Before writing crime fiction, she taught American literature, writing, and detective fiction at Northern Virginia Community College and Georgetown University. When not reading and writing, she enjoys theater, travel, trivia, cooking, and crosswords.

Visit her website to sign up for her newsletter. One subscriber wins a book each time a newsletter goes out. Check out the easy recipes, mystery history and trivia, and a free culinary mystery story on the website.

Five-Ingredient Mysteries in Order

1. By Cook or by Crook: Val and Granddad adjust to a new life spiced with a local murder.
2. Scam Chowder: Granddad is in the soup after a scammer targeting retirees goes face down in his chowder.
3. Final Fondue:  Val, Granddad, and their house guests plumb the dark side of love.
4. The Tell-Tale Tarte: Murder among Poe fans leads to a local “House of Usher” house and Poe’s grave.
5. S’more Murders: The Titanic memorial dinner Val caters aboard a yacht has a fatal outcome.
6. Crypt Suzette: Haunted houses and manuscripts offer clues to the killer in a writers’ group.
7. Gingerdead Man: A Christmas Carol ghost commits murder during a Dickens of a holiday festival.

“Granddad is a hoot and his jobs as a food reviewer and part-time detective provide endless possibilities for fun and murder . . . Charming.” —Kirkus Reviews

Plenty of red herrings, mixed motives, and recipes for foodies make for a spirited holiday cozy.”—Kirkus Reviews


Have you cooked any new dishes in the past year while we've been in lock-down? 


  1. I love simple pasta dishes like this, and I usually have a carton of cottage cheese lying around. Definitely adding this to the list. Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Thanks for commenting, Mia. This dish turned out way better than I expected.

  2. I've tried quite a few new recipes this past year. Many of them were from my favorite authors.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Brenda. I'm glad to find out that you've tried recipes shared by authors. I have too.

  3. Baked ziti! Perfect.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Libby. Rigatoni was what I had in the pantry, but I'd like to try this with ziti.

  4. Hi Maya! This dish looks great and I use this recipe. We have tried new dishes this past year. Lots of pasta and ground beef recipes because that's what I had in my freezer.

    1. Hi, Tina. Thanks for your comment. When I first told my husband about the recipe, he wasn't enthusiastic, but after one bite, he gobbled it up. When in doubt, go for the pasta.

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  6. Hi - This looks great! I've never used cottage cheese in baked pasta dishes, always ricotta, but I think I'll try this. Could you tell a difference using cottage cheese? Just curious. Thanks.

  7. Yum yum yummy. Going to have to make this, it looks and sounds delicious. I have done Cottage cheese dessert, turned out fabulous. Just like switching from beef to Turkey. Thank you for sharing.
    Love live you're writing.

  8. I am in love with these 5 ingredient meals!!!!
    My husband has taken over a majority of the cooking this year and I'm loving it. His meals are anything new but taste so much better. I'm happy to be on clean up duty.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Sandra. I'm glad that I get to do the cooking and my husband the clean up. He's glad too. :-)

  9. I love this series great recipe thank you

    1. Thank you for the kind words about the series, Penney.

  10. I love rigatoni but never tried it baked. Sounds like a winner! Thanks for the recipe.

  11. Thanks for commenting, Linda. I'd previously only baked mac and cheese and lasagna. This dish tastes like a cross between them.

  12. This recipe looks so good. I make baked ziti type meals a lot. I have tried so many new recipes this past year! I'm enjoying it! Love cooking from scratch!